Electricity, Water and Utilities

Electricity, Water and Utilities

Update on Ausgrid negotiations, protected action and delegates’ meeting

Paul Lister - Thursday, January 18, 2018

After the recent 95% YES vote to take industrial action if required, to keep the action active we now must decide to take protected action within a 30-day window that ends on 9 February 2018. Accordingly, a delegates meeting on Wednesday 31 January will decide whether to proceed to industrial action or not based on the progress of Agreement negotiations to that date. In the meantime, a group of negotiating delegates and myself continues intensive discussions with Ausgrid in a bid to obtain a negotiated outcome. The major outstanding issues are:

CCR: Reform of Ausgrid’s career capability and remuneration scheme to the point where we are satisfied with the following areas:

  • rates of pay
  • merit appointment hurdles,
  • the allocation of skills sets to various classifications bands and how that will be negotiated over the next 12 months prior to implementation.
  • The nature of “exceeding expectations” as a criterion for skills progression and how that will be negotiated over the next 12 months prior to implementation.

Wage rises: The combined unions demand remains 3% per annum. Averaged over the seven years between the last wage rise and the proposed end of this agreement, this equates to just 1.28% per annum. Our claim is very modest when compared to the average 5.3% pay rise and $50,000 bonuses that Ausgrid executives paid themselves annually over the past four years.

We will report back on the progress of these negotiations next week or early the week after. In the meantime, all delegates should attend the very important meeting to be held on Wednesday 31 January, the time and location of this meeting will be advised in due course. The meeting will discuss one of two things;

  • An in-principle Agreement package for delegates to authorise the negotiating committee to finalise or
  • the type and quantity of industrial actions to be taken.

Either way the matter will be brought to a head once and for all.

In Unity,

Overwhelming Vote Authorises Protected Action

Paul Lister - Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Almost all combined union members at Ausgrid who participated in the Protected Action Ballot have voted ‘YES’ to authorise all listed industrial actions.

The Australian Electoral Commission declared the result this afternoon. A strong turnout produced almost 95 per cent support for all three sets of industrial action. The clock is now ticking for Ausgrid management to improve the current EBA offer or face widespread industrial action.

The vote opens a 30-day window for union members at Ausgrid to take protected industrial action, which if taken may be used until an outcome is secured. If management fails to make an acceptable offer, combined delegates will meet on Wednesday 31 January to decide specific actions.

The major obstacles to agreement are:

  1. Employees have rejected Ausgrid’s proposed Capability and Remuneration scheme (CCR) because, unless modified, the CCR severely limits career paths with future employees set to receive lower rates of pay.
  2. Inadequate wage rises – Ausgrid’s offer remains: Year 1, 2.5% plus one-off $1,000 sign-on bonus; Year 2, 2.5%; Year 3, 2%. Years 2 and 3 are contingent on agreement to implement the CCR. The combined unions position remains a modest 3% annual pay increase. While workers’ wages have been frozen for four years, Ausgrid executives enjoyed average bonuses exceeding $50,000 each in 2014, 2015 and 2016 on top of annual pay increases averaging 5.3%.

Congratulations to all union members for your strong stand in this protected action ballot. Management must now respond, or they will face an escalated employee campaign.

In Unity,
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au


Peter Moss - Thursday, December 21, 2017

Members should have received ballot papers from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for the Ausgrid Agreement bargaining protected action vote. The ballot closes on Monday 8th January. Given the Christmas break now is realistically the last chance members will have to exercise their vote. Tick yes to all three categories of questions on the ballot paper and return it immediately via post or a workplace delegate:

1. Fill in your ballot paper by ticking yes to all three questions.

2. Put your ballot paper in the declaration envelope and seal it.

3. Sign the voter’s declaration on the declaration envelope.

4. Place the declaration envelope in to the reply-paid envelope and post it immediately.

If for some reason you do not have the reply-paid envelope you can place the completed declaration envelope inside a normal envelope (no need for a stamp) and address it to;

Australian Electoral Commission
Reply Paid 1326
Haymarket NSW 1239.

If you are unable to get to a post box – give the sealed envelope to your work place delegate who will post it on your behalf. If you have any issues with your voting papers call the AEC on 9375 6361.

While we continue to have productive discussions with Ausgrid over the Career capability and Remuneration scheme (CCR) we must retain the option to take protected industrial action in case we cannot negotiate an acceptable outcome. To achieve this - all members should vote yes to all the questions and return the ballot papers ASAP. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all members a very happy and relaxing Christmas and thank you for your support during the year.

Mark Buttigieg
0417 208 447


Peter Moss - Friday, December 15, 2017

More than 2,600 Essential Energy workers will celebrate the New Year with a 2% pay rise.

The increase is the first of four now locked in after ETU members overwhelmingly approved their new enterprise agreement today.

More than 96 per cent of employees who voted gave the thumbs up to a 3.5 year EBA.

The deal will deliver total increases of between 7%-8.25% while maintaining all existing conditions.

ETU Assistant Secretary Justin Page welcomed the strong turnout and huge ‘yes’ vote.

‘This agreement delivers modest pay rises and job security without trading off the conditions we have,’ said Justin.

‘It was achieved without industrial action and is wrapped up before the current EBA expires.

‘That’s great news for our members at Essential Energy. No-one deserves a pay rise more than these workers.’

Justin thanked ETU delegates for negotiating the agreement.

‘This positive outcome is the result our delegates’ hard work and dedication. At depots across NSW, ETU delegates are the heart and soul of the union.


Bruce Fan - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ausgrid Protected Action Ballot

Members will this week receive ballot papers from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for the Ausgrid Agreement bargaining protected action vote. The ballot is open to all union members and is being conducted for us to have the legal right to take protected industrial action should thatbecome necessary.

Given that Christmas holidays are upon us it is critically important that all members exercise their vote immediately by ticking yes to all three categories of questions on the ballot paper and returning it via post or a workplace delegate;

  1. Fill in your ballot paper by ticking yes to all three questions.
  2. Put your ballot paper in the declaration envelope and seal it.    
  3. Sign the voter’s declaration on the declaration envelope.
  4. Place the declaration envelope in to the reply-paid envelope and post it immediately.

If you are unable to get to a post box – give the sealed envelope to your work place delegate who will post it on your behalf.

Important: If ongoing discussions do not result in what we think is an acceptable package to put to delegates and members, then we must send Ausgrid a clear message that we mean business by taking protected industrial action. To achieve this - all members should vote yes to all the questions and return the ballot papers ASAP.


Peter Moss - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Don’t forget to have your say on the agreement which will set your wages and conditions until 2020.

The proposed EBA will deliver between 7%-8.25% in pay rises over 3.5 years – with the first 2% paid to you on New Year’s Day 2018.

All existing conditions have been maintained.

Vote in the electronic ballot using the password emailed to you.


Ausgrid protected action ballot

Bruce Fan - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Please find latest Ausgrid video update for instructions on completing the Ausgrid protected action ballot ASAP - which members will be receiving now.

Any questions please call Mark Buttigieg on 0417208447.


Four Year Transgrid EBA Protects and Improves Conditions

Peter Moss - Tuesday, December 05, 2017

ETU members at Transgrid have maintained and improved conditions in the first enterprise agreement negotiated since the company was privatised two years ago.

A four-year EBA will deliver total pay rises of 8 per cent, with two instalments of 2 per cent set to land at Christmas and then New Year.

The agreement includes better redundancy pay, superior remote working arrangements and a pacesetting 10 days domestic violence leave.

Photo: Col Waring

Veteran ETU negotiator Michael McManus said the outcome meets the priorities set by members at depot meetings.

‘We’re reasonably happy with it. The wage increases are not big but for the blokes the primary aim was to secure our conditions and avoid trade-offs,’ said Michael, a site manager in Yass.

‘It’s not perfect but the payments for forced or voluntary redundancy are now significantly higher than the National Employments Standards.

‘We’re very happy with the domestic violence leave – 10 days helps our people and makes Transgrid a national leader,’ said Michael.

Col Waring, a substation advisor and ETU negotiator, said ‘we’ve accepted an offer that does the minimum’.

‘It’s a reasonable outcome in a tough environment for the electricity sector. We’re 100 per cent privatised and our workforce is under pressure,’ said Col, who works at Eastern Creek.

‘We had to protect jobs and full-time employment, particularly in rural areas. We need stability and security. This EBA delivers that along with improved conditions and a reasonable pay rise for the future.’

Transgrid workers are now entitled to up to 62 weeks redundancy pay, far above the 12 weeks contained in the National Employment Standards.

The EBA provides that employees working away from home are uniformly entitled to claim a day ‘sustenance rate’ instead of being paid ‘actuals’ (receipted expenses).

A new flexible arrangement for remote work means employees working away for long periods will enjoy more leave when they get home.

ETU Secretary Dave McKinley, who led negotiations, said the maintenance of conditions met ‘our members’ biggest concern’.

‘Our team protected all key conditions while enhancing others with an eye to the future.

‘Transgrid is likely to take on more contestable work including huge projects such as interconnectors in South Australia and Queensland. This will require extended periods of remote work which will see our members benefit under clauses in this EBA,’ said Dave.

Transgrid operates almost 13,000 kilometres of high voltage transmission network in NSW and the ACT.

The company was sold by the NSW Government in December 2015 to a consortium composed of Australian, Canadian and Middle Eastern investors.

The four-year EBA, expiring in December 2020, covers around 900 employees including up to 400 ETU members.

Ausgrid Update - 30 November

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Members will be mailed ballot papers next week for a vote to authorise protected industrial action – it is essential that all ETU members complete the ballot and vote ‘YES’ to every proposed action.

Only a strong majority ‘YES’ vote to every action will enable us to campaign effectively for an acceptable agreement, in the event that matters cannot be resolved in negotiations.

A clear, united “YES’ vote will send a powerful message to Ausgrid management that we are serious about achieving a fair outcome and will back our words with action, if required.

Your ETU negotiators will of course continue to do everything possible to achieve an acceptable result via negotiation. As I write this today, we have reached in-principle agreement on six items. However, two major issues remain outstanding.

Six items agreed in principle, but two key matters unresolved
Negotiations have continued this week with in principle agreement on the following major items:

  1. Consultation Clause.
  2. Dispute Settlement Procedure Clause.
  3. Redeployee incentive. On certification of the Agreement, for all redeployees a one off $75,000 incentive payment with a three-week acceptance period after which time the offer is withdrawn.
  4. As at 1 July 2020 a cap of 250 on the number of redeployees that can be made forcibly redundant at the end of the job guarantee period. In other words, Ausgrid can make forcibly redundant up to 250 remaining redeployees as at 1 July 2020.
  5. From 1 July 2020 an ongoing “global” annual cap of 250 to apply to both voluntary and forced redundancies.
  6. An Annual Apprentice intake.

Remaining Major outstanding items

  1. Career Capability and Remuneration (CCR) scheme. We are in the process of making sure that any discrepancy between the current skills structure pay rates and the proposed CCR pay rates does not result in any structural long term pay disadvantages as people progress through their career. The nature of how that progression through a career is determined, is also being negotiated.
  2. Pay Rise: Ausgrid’s position remains; 2.5% year 1 plus a one off $1,000 sign on bonus, 2.5% in year 2 and 2% in year 3 (contingent on agreeing to the CCR). The ETU’s position remains 3% per annum, this is not unreasonable given the three to four year wage freeze.

The Protected Action Ballot Timetable

The Fair Work Commission has approved the conducting of a ballot of members for the right to take protected industrial action. We expect ballot papers to begin arriving at members addresses from Monday 11 December.

It is critical that on receiving the ballot papers that all members vote and return the ballots as soon as they receive the ballot papers.

Please ensure that you register a yes vote to all the questions so that the ballot result is effective. Members can either post back the ballot or give them back to their local workplace delegate who will post them.
While we continue to negotiate with Ausgrid on the outstanding matters outlined above, it is important for members to understand that these matters are part of a total package. If we are unable to resolve the outstanding issues, then we will proceed to a concerted industrial and political campaign to achieve an outcome which is acceptable to members.
In Unity,
0417 208 447 / markb@etunsw.asn.au

Ausgrid EBA Update - 23 November

Paul Lister - Thursday, November 23, 2017

The combined unions continue to edge closer to an agreement with discussions continuing around annual pay increases in the new agreement and the proposed career progression structure, excluding these two items the ETU believes we are moving closer to an agreement providing these items can be resolved.

The application for protected industrial action has been lodged with the Fair Work Commission and we await a response and order permitting this action - this course of action will be pursued if necessary and we will keep members updated. Below is a video update from ETU Organiser Mark Buttigieg.